Friday, 10 November 2017

Foundation Day Tuesday, 21st November 2017

Foundation Day, Tuesday 21st November 2017

The library normally closes early to allow for the Foundation day ceremonies but this year the building will be closed for the entire day. There will be no access into either the North or the South Block. The Institute of Classical Studies Library / Hellenic and Roman Societies Library will be closed from Monday 6.00 p.m. until Wednesday 22nd November 9.30 am

This is on the advice of the Metropolitan Police in order to ensure a safe environment for Foundation Day guests. The Warburg Institute in Woburn Square will remain open.

We apologise for the inconvenience caused.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Monsters Display in the Library

We've been celebrating monsters this past week at the Institute of Classical Studies. In honour of this, Deputy Librarian, Paul Jackson, has put together a display of monster-related rare books.

Why not venture down to the library to explore some of the treasures from our collection?

Map featuring sea monsters by Gerhard Mercator (see below for detail)

The books on display include:

Homer's Odyssey, translated by Henry Cotterill and illustrated by Patten Wilson

The Sirens, illustrated by Patten Wilson

Geography of Ptolemy, with maps and monsters as imagined by Gerhard Mercator

Detail from map by Gerhard Mercator showing a sea monster

Peintures antiques et inédites de vases grecs tirées de diverses collections, complete with illustrations
Heracles struggling with the sea-god, Nereus by James Millingen

The display also includes images and descriptions of the Sphinx; a depiction and analysis of the Centaurs battling the Lapiths on the Parthenon Frieze; two dictionaries, open to definitions for monstrum and τέρας; images and translations of Odysseus escaping the deadly Scylla and Charybdis; Dryden's translation of Virgil's Polyphemus, the one-eyed giant, and more.

The display will be available to view until the end of October.

If you want more monsters in your life, don't forget to check out part 1 and part 2 of our monster books reading list.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Monster Books - Part 2

The Institute of Classical Studies is holding a free public event entitled Why do we need monsters? on Tuesday 17th October. In honour of this, we went on a heroic hunt for the monsters, beasts and demons hidden away in our library. The fruits of our Herculean labours can be found below - whether you’re interested in art, literature, language or history, there’s something for you. In case you missed part 1, you can find it here.

Monsters and monstrosity in Augustan poetry, Lowe, D
Dr Lowe looks at how poets, such as Ovid and Virgil, reinvented the monsters of Greek myth to explore political, social and aesthetic developments in Rome. The monsters discussed include the Centaurs and the Minotaur in their role as hyper-masculine, brutish beast-men, and the desirable, but dangerous, Medusa. Dr Lowe will be speaking at the Why do we need Monsters? event on ‘Real monsters in ancient Rome’, so why not go along to hear more?

Mythical monsters in classical literature, Murgatroyd, P
Want to know more about Sirens, Cyclopes and Vampires? This book covers the representation of all your favourite monsters in literature, from the ancient world all the way up the to the 21st century.

This reference book details the gods, demons, angels, spirits and semi-divine heroes who feature in the bible. The entries include discussions of the name’s meaning and etymology; the individual’s role outside the bible; the individual’s role in Biblical texts; bibliographical information.

The fish-tailed monster in Greek and Etruscan art, Shepard, K
In this book, Shepard discusses the depiction of the merman, the hippocamp and the ketos in Greek and Etruscan art across a range of media, including tomb paintings, jewellery and monuments.

The animal part: human and other animals in the poetic imagination, Payne, M
This book examines how verse writers, from antiquity to the present day, have explored animal experiences and suffering, and communicated them to a very different kind of beast in their human audience.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Monster Books – Part 1

The Institute of Classical Studies is holding a free public event entitled Why do we need Monsters? on Tuesday 17th October. To celebrate this, we set out on our very own quest through our labyrinthine library, hunting out the monsters, beasts and creatures lurking amidst our book shelves. Check out the list below for the spoils (books) we’ve amassed - whether you’re interested in art, literature, language or history, we’ve tried to find something you might like to add to your reading list. Keep watch for part 2 next week for more terrible tomes!

The Dragon Devouring Cadmus' Companions, Hendrick Goltzius

The origins of monsters: image and cognition in the first age of mechanical reproduction, Wengrow, D
Professor Wengrow looks at the production and transmission of images of monsters across ancient societies, such as Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and China, and explores the relationships between image, cognition and early state formation. Professor Wengrow will be speaking at the Why do we need Monsters? event on ‘What is a monster, and do we really need them?’ so why not go along to hear more?

Composite creatures from Syria, as discussed by Professor Wengrow

Monsters and monstrosity in Greek and Roman culture, Atherton, C (ed.)
This collection of five essays explores monsters in a whole range of contexts, covering: the representation of Polyphemus in the Odyssey; the depiction of monsters, ogres and demons in Old Comedy; the liminal role of monsters, especially in ritual contexts; the status of Talos, the bronze giant of Crete; the role of animals and beasts in Roman religion.

Creatures of speech: lion, herding and hunting similes in the Iliad, Lonsdale, S. H.
Homer is famous for his similes, but have you noticed how many lions there are in them? This book looks at such similes in the Iliad, examining the recurring themes, the contexts in which they are used, and how they relate to the surrounding narrative.

Herakles and the sea-monster in Attic black-figure vase-painting, Ahlberg-Cornell, G
In this book, Ahlberg-Cornell looks at the depiction of Herakles fighting with a sea-monster (variously Nereus or Triton) in over 130 black-figure vase paintings, exploring the development and significance of this theme. Illustrations of all the vases are included.

One of the vases depicting Herakles struggling with the sea-monster

Spectacles of empire: monsters, martyrs, and the Book of Revelation, Frilingos, C. A.
Frilingos looks at the Book of Revelation (including its seven-headed beast) and how it uses the spectacle and theatricality central to Roman life to engage its audience.

The beasts, birds, and bees of Virgil : a naturalist's handbook of the Georgics, Royds, T. F. 
This book surveys the animals – from horses and goats to gadflies and weevils - of Virgil’s Georgics.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Library Lobby Renovations 3!

We have some exciting news - the lobby renovations are almost complete.

We are due to return to the main entrance on the 3rd floor this Monday (25th September).

The library will be open as usual on Monday. However, since library equipment will be being moved throughout the day, there may be some disruption. We apologise in advance for this and thank you for your patience.

We will have some photos of our new lobby to share with you soon!
The Library Team

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Library Filming

Our beloved library is taking on a starring role in a promotional film for the Hellenic and Roman Library appeal.  The film will give a flavour of the library's collection and how it's used, and aims to raise funds to ensure the library continues to be an accessible, world-class research facility.

The filming will take place this Friday and Saturday (15th - 16th September).

The library will be open as usual while the filming takes place.

We want to show the library in all its functional glory and so if you happen to be using the library on these days, you may appear in the background (as an extra, if you will!).  Anyone who features more prominently will be asked to complete a Contributor Release Form.

If you would prefer not to appear in the film, please speak to a member of staff or filming crew.

Finally, while we will try to keep disruption to a minimum, we apologise in advance for any inconvenience the filming causes.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Plea for Locker Keys

The recent building work, and subsequent removal of some lockers to a different part of the library, has made us realise just how many of our lockers no longer have their keys - 32 in total!

We're consequently sending out a plea for our readers to check their bags and pockets to see if they've accidentally walked off with any of the keys after emptying the lockers. It's very easily done, so if you do find a key of ours we would be very grateful to have it back (no questions asked!)

If we don't get the keys back, then there is considerable cost involved in not only changing the locks and having new keys cut, but also paying for the labour to get both of those things done! It could easily work out to over £500, which, of course, we would much rather spend on books (or something similarly beneficial for the library.)

Locker numbers 6, 10, 13, 20, 28, 49 and 56 all had personal items in when they were cleared out for the move, so if you used any of those, and would like to return the keys at the same time as picking up your belongings, that would be wonderful.

The other numbers we are missing are:

Thank you in advance for all your help!
The Library Team

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Library Lobby Renovations 2!

As you will be aware if you've come to the library today, the lobby renovations have now begun and we have crowded our office into the Numismatics Room. Thank you to everyone who has borne with us as we try to get sorted (despite on-going technical malfunctions with computers, printers and telephones!), especially if you've had to go back and forth between Numismatics and the lobby due to a shortage of lockers.

On that note, however, we have good news!

The building contractors have confirmed to us that part of the lobby will be accessible during the renovation. This means that lifts will still go to the third floor, and the lockers will be placed there as a barrier, so they will still be available to use (provided they have keys - but that is another blog post to come!)

However, you will still have to enter the library through the Numismatics Room because the main doors will definitely be out of bounds. This means that when you exit the lift you should turn right (towards the Ladies' toilets - which should also still be useable!), go through the doors to the staircase, and straight across as if you were heading to Room 349. Then the route is as originally outlined on the new plan we drew up (copies of which are available at the library desk), but there will also be arrows on the wall.

Currently we can confirm that if the lockers in the main lobby are accessible in the morning then they will be for the rest of the day (i.e. nothing will be moved or emptied, and you will be able to collect your belongings at the end of the day). However, if there is some part of the works taking place that mean it is unsafe for the main lobby to be accessed, or equipment is being moved in, we ask that you would please bear with us, and come up via the stairs as originally outlined. Unfortunately we have no way of knowing when this might happen, but will send out notices if we hear of anything.

We have also just found out that, because of the lobby closure, the UCL post will have to be delivered via the library. This will involve two large cages of post coming through Numismatics, History, and Archaeology, then through the doors by the Tract volumes once each day. We are very sorry for any inconvenience and noise caused by this.

If you'd like to make any comments or queries about the works then please do send them to

Many thanks again for your patience!
The Library Team

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Library Lobby Renovations!

This summer the University of London is undertaking a refurbishment of the 3rd floor lobby area, including the library issue desk. Though the lobby will be closed for the duration of the work, the library will still be open as normal, so here is all the information you need to know to get you through the new access arrangements

When will the lobby be closed?
The refurbishment is scheduled to begin on 1st August, and should (all being well) be finished mid-September. We will provide a more definite end-date when we have one.

During this time the library will remain open in line with standard opening hours. The library will be fully closed during the summer closure period (6pm 18th August – 9.30 am 4th September).

How will I get to the library?
Lifts will not be going to the 3rd floor while the works are underway. To reach the library, take the lift to the 2nd floor, then climb the final flight of stairs to the 3rd. At the top of the stairs turn right, though some doors labelled ‘To rooms 347-355’, and follow the corridor round through several sets of doors. This will take you to the back entrance of the Numismatics Room, which will serve as the temporary library entrance.

We will put up signs to make the directions as clear as possible, and a plan of the new route will soon be accessible via the website.

So, is the Numismatics Room out of bounds too?
All the books in the Numismatics Room will still be accessible to readers, but, since we will need to move equipment there from the current issue desk, the room unfortunately cannot be used as reading space.

What if I am unable to use the stairs?
If you require step-free access to move between the 2nd and 3rd floors, please contact library staff in advance of your visit to give us notice of this. We can then arrange for access to a service lift to bring you directly to the temporary library entrance. Regrettably, this lift cannot be accessed unescorted, so we will need at least a day's notice to be sure of having a staff member available to help. Either ring the library desk on 020 7862 8709, or e-mail, to register this need.

Where will the nearest toilets be?
Since the 3rd floor lobby is completely out of bounds, you will have to go down to the 2nd floor to use the toilets there.

Anything else I should know?
 Yes! Please be aware that staff will be asking to see your library cards when you enter the library (since there will not be a security barrier there).

Also, please note that, although there will be some lockers available, the number will be greatly reduced from normal. Therefore please try to avoid bringing large bags to the library if you can.


If you have any questions about the refurbishment or these changes then please contact the library team and we'll do our best to answer! Thank you in advance for bearing with us as we do our best to keep everything running smoothly during the disruption.


Monday, 17 July 2017

Library Account Downtime - 18.7.17

This is a brief notice to make you aware that, due to maintenance taking place on our library system, you will be unable to log in to your accounts from 11pm on Tuesday 18th July (tomorrow) until 11am on Wednesday 19th.

This means that during that time you will not be able to renew or request books, but given that most of the improvements will be made overnight, we hope it will not cause too much inconvenience.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Former Librarian: Gertrude Rachel Levy

Late last month, the library received a very exciting envelope from Richard J.B. Stein, containing a book by, photo of, and postcard from, Gertrude Rachel Levy (1883-1966). She was a Classical scholar and archaeologist, but she was also librarian of the Joint Library of the Hellenic and Roman Societies (there was no Institute at that time!) from 1939/40 until July 1949, when she retired. Several of the books she wrote are still on our shelves now, including The Violet Crown and The Gate of Horn.

The photograph we received is of her c.1900, so before her time as our librarian, but it is still wonderful to see her, especially with such beautiful books in tow!

Also in the envelope was a postcard from the Diyala Region sites of Tell Asmar, Khafaje, and Ishchali, in which she records that there have been "No exciting finds so far".

Needless to say that these finds have greatly excited library staff, and we are very grateful to Richard J.B. Stein for sending them to us. We will treasure them. If anyone knows anything further about G.R Levy, or her work at the library, please do get in touch, as we would love to hear from you!

Friday, 7 July 2017

Hellenic and Roman Societies' Sculpture Day

In honour of the Sculpture Day, held by the Societies on 28th June, our Deputy Librarian, Paul Jackson, raided the Rare Books collection and did a display of the library's sculpture-related treasures. Sadly such displays cannot become regular occurrences, as the cases were only loaned to us temporarily, so here are some highlights in case you missed the exhibition. Full details of what was shown can be found here.

One of the brightest treasures on display was this reconstruction of the Parthenon Frieze by Shirley Pickett (below), illustrating her theory that in ancient sculpture the male figures would be painted in darker colours and the female figures left pale.

Pickett, Shirley. The Elgin Marbles in Colour: a reconstruction of the Parthenon frieze (1997)
We were also very lucky to have two 17th century engravings on display, which form part of a recent bequest from Dr. P J Casey (1935-2016). The first shows the sculpture from the Arch of Septimius Severus, and the second from the Arch of Constantine.

Thank you to everyone who attended the Sculpture Day, and we hope you enjoyed looking at the displays as much as we enjoyed setting them out!

Deputy Librarian, Paul Jackson, setting out the first case!

Monday, 26 June 2017

New Vending Machine!

Just in case you haven't seen it, we wanted to make you all aware that there is now a vending machine in the cafe area on the Ground Floor. It is called 'Lisa', and stocks a variety of healthy crisps/snacks and soft drinks.

We thought this might be particularly useful for readers using the libraries on evenings and Saturdays, as they'll be able to get something to eat/drink even when the cafe is closed.

It (she?) takes coins, or debit/credit cards. However, be aware that if you use a card to purchase anything from the machine it costs 6% more than the hard currency price.

Happy munching (though, of course, not in the library!)

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Dates for your Diary: Summer Closures

Thursday 8th June is the Joint Library's last evening opening of the summer, and after that date the library will close at 6pm every day until the new term. 8pm closing (on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays) will start again on Tuesday 3rd October, until Thursday 14th December.

The library will be closing as usual for two weeks at the end of August. We will close at 6pm on Friday 18th August, and re-open at 9:30am on Monday 4th September.

Please also note that we expect building work to be starting around the end of July, since the lobby will be being refurbished. While these renovations are happening the library will not be accessible through the normal entrance, but instead through the doors by the service lift (which open on to the Atlas section near Numismatics). We will give you further details and more specific dates when we know them.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Library Survey 2017

The Institute of Classical Studies/Hellenic and Roman Library Survey is now live, and the team would really appreciate it if you would take a few minutes to fill it in. It's just 10 questions, 9 of which are multiple choice, and a box at the end where you can make any comments you wish to.

The survey can be found here, and is open until Sunday 21st May - just before the new librarian starts on 22nd! It will therefore be a really useful way for us to know how to proceed after the summer break, and how we can keep the library the best it can be for all of you.

Many thanks in advance for your feedback!

Friday, 28 April 2017

Dates for your Diary: May Bank Holidays

Due to upcoming Bank Holidays, the library will be closed on the following dates:

Monday 1st May

Saturday 27th May

Monday 29th May

The team hope all readers manage to have a restful few days while the library is closed! :) 

Monday, 20 March 2017

Roman Society Museum Internship Bursaries

Applications are now open for the Roman Society's 2017 Museum Internship Bursary Scheme. There are up to eight bursaries of £250 available, which are to be put towards living or travel expenses for students wishing to undertake placements at the following institutions:

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford:

British Museum (Department of Greece and Rome), London:

British Museum (Department of Coins and Medals), London:

This placement will involve supporting the curatorial team in their collections research for the upcoming re-interpretation project at Corbridge museum. The exact nature of the work will depend on the applicant's interests and experience, and the stage of current work at the time of the placement.

English Heritage (Properties Historian Team), London:

The successful candidate will have the opportunity to complete three different tasks: 1) historical research on an aspect of Roman history, including life in a Roman town, the history of Roman military installations, and early-modern/modern literary responses to Roman sites; 2) the interpretation of historical material to the public, including preparation of display panels, trails and reconstruction drawings; 3) shadowing a historian at project meetings and helping to prepare project documents.

Note: these examples are indicative, and the exact nature of the placement programme will be determined by its timing, project requirements, and a discussion with the candidate.

Great North Museum, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne:

Institute of Classical Studies, London:

This placement offers the opportunity to gain experience in Digital Classics research. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to design and implement a small, independent piece of work related to one of the Institute's projects, for example: a database of persons or names related to a historical source or area; annotating geographical information in visual or textual resources; or library catalogue data related to digital publication. Advanced digital skills are not a requirement, but familiarity with basic tools such as spreadsheets and database tables would be an advantage

Roman Baths, Bath:

All Undergraduate and MA students are eligible to apply for these bursaries, and may either make an open application, or specify the museum/organisation they wish to work at. The deadline for applications is 30th April 2017. Candidates should send a letter of application to Dr. Fiona Haarer (Roman Society Secretary), outlining why they wish to undertake the internship, and any relevant experience that they have. These should be sent to the e-mail, as should any queries about the bursary scheme. Dates of the placements can be set through consultation between the successful candidate and the organisation in question, but are usually for 2-3 weeks during the summer holiday.

Click here to read the reports of what previous students did on their museum internships.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Happy International Women's Day!

If you're interested in finding out about female authors in antiquity (or just want to be able to name one other than Sappho!) then this post from last August would be a good place to start.

If you'd prefer something a little more recent, then 'Women classical scholars : unsealing the fountain from the Renaissance to Jacqueline de Romilly' (edited by Rosie Wyles and Edith Hall) has just come off the New Books Shelf, so you could borrow it for a whole two months and read some of the fascinating stories about our scholarly foremothers.

To read an interview with Edith Hall about some of the trials overcome to get this book published, click here.

Alternatively, if you'd like something to add to your own bookcases at home, there should be plenty on our Sales Shelf to tempt you. A few choices specifically about women:

Welch, T.S (2015), Tarpeia: Workings of a Roman Myth
In this book Tara Welch considers how the myth of Tarpeia (who, in legend, betrayed Romulus' city to the Sabines) was used by ancient thinkers as a lens through which to consider matters such as ethics, gender, conquest, and, ultimately, what it meant to be Roman.

Potter, D. (2015), Theodora: Actress, Empress, Saint
David Potter charts Theodora's rise from actress, to secret agent, to the wife of Emperor Justinian, merging ancient sources with the latest research to provide a well-rounded narrative of her controversial life.

Euripides. Blessington, F. (trans.) (2015), Trojan Women, Helen, Hecuba: Three Plays about Women and the Trojan War
A verse translation by Francis Blessington (with introduction and notes) of these three plays about women affected by the Trojan War.

Happy reading!

Monday, 6 March 2017

Dates for your Diary: Easter Closure

Thursday 23rd March will be our last day of evening opening, coinciding with the end of the university term. After that date the library will close at 6pm during the week, rather than 8pm.

Saturday 8th April will be the last Saturday that the library is open before Easter.

The library will close for the Easter holidays at 6pm on Wednesday 12th April. We will re-open on Wednesday 19th.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

New Staff #2: Librarian

The ICS/Joint Library team are delighted to announce that Joanna Ashe has been appointed as our new Librarian. She is currently a senior information specialist at the Royal College of Physicians, and will be joining our staff at the end of May. We look forward to working with her in keeping the library a hub for innovative and interdisciplinary research across the Classics.

We want to thank all three shortlisted candidates, who gave their presentations on 17th February. They provided much food for thought regarding the future of research libraries, and original ideas on how any challenges could be met. The library team very much enjoyed listening to these talks and appreciate the effort that went into them.

Monday, 27 February 2017

New Staff #1: Graduate Trainee for 2017/18

The ICS/Joint Library Team are delighted to announce that Molly Richards will be our next graduate trainee. Molly graduated from Clare College, Cambridge, in 2016, and we look forward to welcoming her to the library in August.